Opportunities During Journey North Studies
often use projects and presentations to wrap up a unit; you can
use them at any point during a Journey North study to teach, apply,
and reinforce concepts and skills, and to assess student gains.
If you expect to uncover what students really think, know, and
can do, you should co-develop or share a list of fair and reasonable
expectations and outcomes for each project so students know what
targets they’re shooting for. (If you’re using a rubric,
for instance, work together on criteria for different levels of
That “Tell a Story” - Have small groups
apply what they’ve learned and create bulletin board
panels or a collage depicting changes during a spring season
(for example see: Follow
Spring's Journey North).
- Ask students to do the same type of drawing before and after
your Journey North investigations (for instance, a drawing of
a monarch life cycle or images of what students think of when
they hear the word "scientist").
- Challenge students to apply their understanding by creating
a model from familiar materials that shows why we have seasons.
When you assess the project, look for this evidence: 1.) the
earth is tilted on an axis, 2.) different parts of earth receive
direct rays from the sun at different times of the year, 3.)
the relation of earth’s hemispheres in relation to the
sun are what result in different seasons.
Science Conferences or Debates - These can mirror real-world
scientific events and enable students to share opinions, support
ideas with evidence, and demonstrate their understanding of
key issues. For instance, the class might have a conference
to explore solutions to the problem of habitat loss in monarchs’
overwintering territory. You can also use the event to assess
their abilities to listen carefully and respect others’
ideas, communicate clearly and persuasively, and critically
a Lesson - When students plan and teach something to
a new audience, their own understanding is enriched and reinforced.
Invite your students to teach a younger class about photoperiod
after participating in the Mystery Class project.
Article/Letter to the Editor - What should people in
your community know about the importance of protecting wildlife
habitats? Have your students share their opinions and offer
evidence to support them.
or Travel Brochures - Challenge students to create
an ad or brochure to entice more butterflies to join the migration
to Mexico. Students must “sell” the trip by describing
the route, highlights of the trip, food resources, and what
awaits them in the winter grounds. Another example: have small
groups create print or video ads to persuade people to plant
and Presentations - These can be individual or group
projects that reveal what students gained throughout a unit
(for instance, Spring’s Arrival in our home town). Build
in assessment at every stage, from planning, to researching,
to presenting the finished project. Consider assigning media
presentations, such as asking students to develop a slide show,
Hypercard project, or video on the unfolding of spring in their
neighborhood. Also see Encouraging
Investigations/Experiments - You can assess students’
abilities to “do science” by challenging them to
think and act like scientists. For instance, ask students to
design and/or conduct a “fair test” to answer one
of their questions about tulip growth or basic needs. You can
score this type of “performance assessment” according
to specific criteria. See sample Science
Process Skills Scale and Rubric
for Scientific Inquiry/Investigations.
Performance Task - Challenge students to a task that
requires them to apply what they’ve learned. You may want
to pose an authentic or contrived scenario and describe the
task and criteria for success. For instance, The parks department
wants to show visitors how to protect migratory butterflies
by creating habitat pockets. Your assignment is to design and
create a map for a butterfly garden. It must be drawn to scale,
list at least 10 plant types and colors, and depict other features
that meet the insects’ basic needs.